“Real places are never captured in words. There is always more.” Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea
In his book The Teachings of Don Juan, Calos Castaneda, describes his medicine man/Shaman Don Juan, as instructing a new student not to leave the porch area of the retreat home until he finds “his spot.” No matter how long it takes. “Search and rest in various spots until you find yours,” commands the Shaman. As I recall it takes the searcher more than one full day find his spot—but he did
And I think we all have “a spot” or perhaps even a few of them, where we can find comfort in ourselves and with ourselves. There are spots in my home where I am most comfortable. But then there are also “places,” cities or regions that simply feel like you belong.
Early in my blogging days I wrote a post, “How Italy Nearly Ruined My Life.” It was written just after my first trip to Rome, Florence, and Venice. For the very first time I was privileged to take in the beauty of ancient architecture, the world’s best food, and inordinately delightful people. I have since become a dyed-in-the-wool Europhile and my home, Orange County, continues to become increasingly boring in its everything-looks-the-sameness. It’s getting time for a new “place.”
Designer and author Debbie Millman recently said on the Tim Ferriss podcast that, as a New Yorker, from early childhood she wanted to live in Manhattan. Her desire was to live in that certain “place” even if doing so impacted the career she chose for herself—one that could support her living in this uber expensive burrow of New York.
When “Where” is More Important than “What” or “Why”?
A discussion emerged on the show about the importance of “where” we live and where we spend our life—an intentional departure for the normal considerations of those things that make up our goals in life like understanding the why and what that define life.
Just think of the people that love their homes and heritage, and if they are for some reason forced to leave they miss that place for most of the rest of their lives. And then there are those like my mother who was raised on a low-income cotton-farm in the south, who left the day it was legal to do so.
A Place is More than a List of Likes
This idea of your special place is rooted in that intuitive “right-brained” aspect of your thinking. Oh, you could tell me plenty of facts about why a certain place strikes your fancy, but the power of its call to you is often almost inexplicable. I have dreamed of the open spaces of Arizona, but then I visited in the summer. My son dreams of building a family compound in Texas because it feeds his visions of family unity, freedom, and independence. But… there is something else entirely luring him (and me) to a different place.
I visited Portugal a couple months ago for the first time and now I plan to return next year for a month. Why? Architecture, culture, people, food? A resounding yes to all. But that is not the lure. I find something serene and yet adventurous in the Lisbon area. I want to hang out for a while.
Think about your special “place”; even if it’s an invented place, especially if it’s an invented place because that place will include all your secret desires, both known and unknown.
Is there a place calling you? Listen for it. Now. What does your inner voice tell you?
When a Place
Is More Than Just a Place
Photo courtesy of Charlie
2 thoughts on “Do You Have a Place?”
Lucca, Italy – the moment I stepped out of my rental car, I knew I was home. The sounds and smells of Lucca were so familiar, so welcoming and naturally comfortable it’s as though I stepped into a world I had been many times and had always belonged. The faces of the people I passed on the streets, the sound of their voices, the scent of their bodies, the energy and passion of their souls were all so immediately familiar, saying to me, this is your family, where you belong, welcome home.
Throughout my life, my ADHD had brought with it a general discomfort and low level anxiety in everything I did and everywhere I went, but Lucca and it’s people were the first time I didn’t experience that odd angst by my side since I was a little kid. I actually called and told my wife – It’s not the ADD that’s a bit off, it’s that I’m Italian and for the first time in my life I felt normal, like I belonged, and didn’t feel different than everyone else. Everyone around me was just like me.
I’ve visited many times since then and each time it’s like coming home.
Kenn. So nice to hear from you and thank you for the encouraging piece. Once again, we are brothers. I don’t know if I mentioned in the post that we are off to Lisbon for a month next year. I am so in love with Europe… and Italy. Wishing you all the best in your travels and in your time at home.